In 1992, actor and comedian Cheech Marin (The War with Grandpa) became the very first champion on Celebrity Jeopardy! The game show debuted the celebrity edition during its ninth season.
With the passing of Jeopardy! host Alex Trebek on Sunday (Nov. 8), Marin posted a picture of him on his Instagram account giving a thumbs up and described the late host as “a true gentleman and a scholar.” Marin wrote, “Jeopardy! will not be the same without him. What a great loss. All my love to his wife and children. I’ll still watch him every day.”
Marin competed on Celebrity Jeopardy! three times over the last three decades, and won thousands of dollars for his charity, the Hispanic Scholarship Fund. On Monday (Nov. 9), he talked about Trebek with CNN’s Anderson Cooper, who Marin beat on Celebrity Jeopardy! in 2010.
“I was the very first Celebrity Jeopardy! champion and nobody expected that,” Marin said. “When I won and after the game was over, he was walking by us, and he just looked at me and gave a little nod and that’s all he needed to say. It was like, ‘Alex Trebek nodded in my direction!’ What a thrill!”
Both Marin and Cooper agreed that Trebek had a presence and energy that made everyone want to be around him.
“He was the coolest guy,” Marin said. “He didn’t make the show about himself. By almost osmosis it became about him because he was the one asking all the questions. He made you feel good even if you looked stupid sometimes because you could really look stupid on that show.”
Trebek hosted Jeopardy! for 36 years. He was diagnosed with stage IV pancreatic cancer in March 2019.